It’s been a long and busy week, leaving me no time for cooking. Today, however, I am off work and I just spent the morning with several people from our neighborhood food buying club receiving a huge produce order. Now my kitchen is filled with a spectacular array of fruits and vegetables including pineapple, fresh figs, rainbow carrots, purple bell peppers, apples, peaches, etc. Yet for all the wonderful colors and flavors I have to choose from, my eyes are drawn to the 2 lb bag of crimini mushrooms and I find myself filled with the desire to make a big pot of Creamy Mushroom Soup! The other veggies will hold for a bit but the mushrooms will start to turn real soon if not used. That’s all the justification I need!
I have toyed with several different mushroom soup recipes over the years, trying to keep the dish simple to prepare and yet hearty and mouthwatering. Unlike Cream of Mushroom soups you buy at the store which have a white saucy appearance, I feel a good mushroom soup should have a deep rich brown color, almost like gravy. This recipe achieves that goal, highlighting the earthy flavors of the mushrooms.
There are two ingredients I find to be absolutely necessary in making a really good mushroom soup; chicken stock and white wine. The stock adds an undeniable body without overwhelming the mushroom flavor while the wine, particularly a dry white, seems to “tickle” the flavor a bit, adding just enough complexity to make the soup really interesting.
Another change I made while making today’s recipe was to replace the cream in the recipe with evaporated milk. I used a 12oz can and added milk to make 2 cups. This way there is slightly less fat than using cream but I still get the same thick consistency as half and half.
Begin by taking a large stock pot and melting:
1/2 c butter (1 stick)
To this add:
1 large onion, chopped
Sauté the onion over low-medium heat until soft. Meanwhile, clean:
1-1/2 lbs crimini mushrooms
Remove the stems and chop the caps into large chunks. I will usually halve each top, then slice across every 1/4” or so. Add the chopped caps to the pan with the onions and brown for 20 minutes or so over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, place the stems in a blender with:
1 qt chicken stock (preferably homemade)
1/4 c flour
Blend until smooth. Once the mushrooms have browned a bit, add the blended mixture along with:
1/2 c dry white wine
2 t dried oregano (or 2 T if fresh)
1 bay leaf
2 t garlic powder
1 t paprika
1 t fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste
Warm over medium heat but do not boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. I recommend using a flat edged spoon, as to better scrape the bottom and corners of the pan and make sure the flour doesn’t clump or stick. After 30 minutes or so remove the bay leaf and, in small increments, stir in:
1 pt cream or half and half
Reheat but do not boil. When the soup has warmed again, add:
1/2 c fresh chopped parsley
Stir well and ladle into serving bowls or mugs. This recipe will make about 6-8 servings. It is quite excellent on its own with fresh baked rolls or as an appetizer for any meat course, as mushrooms compliment beef, pork or chicken equally well!